Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Local Heroes - Southend Rocks

Until it finally closed a few years ago, my favourite local, second-hand record and bookshop (and the only place you'd get a fair price for your hand-me-down albums) was run by a genial 'Mr Pleasant' type, that would give a welcoming tap on the window whenever I passed by holding up items of interest, and keeping Beatles bits 'n' bobs back for me .

His shop was perma-stocked with an unusually healthy amount of quality goodies - framed sheet music, retro posters and promo CDs. So a bit of surpise then, when I heard the local BBC radio station dropping a reference to Mr Pleasant's shop - turns out he was none other than the Abbey Road/Decca legend Peter Eden, who'd discovered and signed Donovan after catching one of his early gigs in Southend..

He never managed a Donovan sized strike again, but had his fingers in several sixties pies - musician, manager, songwriter, A&R man and producer. A selection of which were collected for a limited edition (1000 copies) anthology of Pete Eden productions released last year - appropriately titled 'Nice'

Two of the many sixties band's to get the Eden treatment were also fellow Southenders - Crocheted Donut Ring - (whaddya mean you've never heard of them?), whose 'Get Out Your Rock and Roll Shoes' was/is one of my most played nuggets..

Crocheted Donut Ring - Get Out Your Rock and Roll Shoes

And River, formed from the crumbling scraps of Crocheted Donut Ring...

River - 'California Here I Come'

His shop may have gone, but Peter Eden is still alive, well and living in the Southend area with an active interest in music - in fact the last time I spotted him, he was bustling around catching some acts at the Leigh Folk Festival.

As footnote of Hi-randomness - Peter also devised,drummed (as Bongo),wrote the theme and a few songs for seventies Kiddy-cult show Animal Kwackers


bleecher said...

mint post mr mondo ... that shop was 2 mins walk away from my house for many many moons .. Peter is so queitly british about his passion for music, i remember wearing a cgramps 'smell of female' t'shirt in his shop once and he dug out a promo tape of the chikasaw mudd puppies (8 track stomp) say if u like the cramps you'll love this and i did.. and still do even if the rest of the world didn't (exepct micheal stipe who produced them)

Keith said...

Wow! That is so awesome. I bet that was an amazing shop to visit. We never really have had anything quite like that around here. We did have a place once called CD Alley. You could buy used CDs there. I got quite a few gems there. They had a little vinyl, but not much.

Ishouldbeworking said...

Magical, Mondo. I read that post thinking 'please don't say Mr Pleasant's body was recently discovered in the Hockley maisonette where he'd lived alone for many years, and forensic reposts indicate he had been dead for several weeks'. But no, he's alive and well and still genial. Phew.

Simon said...

The guy who ran my local record shop (well actually it was a bike shop with a rack of records at the back) was one of a pair of brothers who also ran the local electrical repair shop. They were called the Beasley Brothers and one looked just like a cross between Tom Baker and the shopkeeper from Mr Benn.

Meanwhile: wadddyamean you've not heard The Jam's version of Big Bird? My favourite version of it, somehow turning it into one of the heaviest (bass and drum wise) tracks they ever did worked wonders. It sounds like some Iron Man stomping over the landscape.

Cocktails said...

Nice post and excellent tunes. And as for Crocheted Donut Ring: ace name and ace track.

Animal Kwackers though is, quite frankly, scary.

Planet Mondo said...

He steered me onto a couple of winners as well Bleech. I picked up on Steely Dan from his shop - and if you ever bought a few bits he'd always round it down . Amazing.

His shop was rammed with top notch goodies, Keith which I guess he got from his music-biz mates..

Yes - he's still around ISB, but the real revelation for me, was discovering that Pete had been the creator of (and drummer for) the Animal Kwackers - incredible.

Is it still there Simon? No still not heard that Jam version yet, but was never really a Jam fan - I only got into Weller through Bleecher (yes, him up top) playing the first solo album for an entire weekend in the early 90s..

Planet Mondo said...

Stomper isn't Cocktails - those Animal Kwackers are bit jarring for young eyes - and then they covered 'Bank Robber', not really an appropriate tune for a tots TV slot is it

bleecher said...

by the way isnt the drummers (peters) costume a straight rip off of bongo fron the (awsome) banana splits? ..or have i got my dates mixed up? and it was the other way round??

Planet Mondo said...

No you're right Bleech - it was Splits first and ver 'Kwak' later - came out around the same time as this

PS that's not Pink Floyd

Hadleigh said...

"Local Heroes-Southend Rock"... nice one PM

Where was the Peter Eden shop? Last time I was in Southend there was a funky little shop in behind the Royals and bus depot that sold used CD's and a bit of vinyl but I don't remember it being anything special.

The only other place I ever found was a half-block off the other side of the high street across from a hobby shop & a fish'n chip place... again it was used CD's but much larger selection and better organized.

Cheers again... Hadleigh

Planet Mondo said...

The 2 places you're talking about Hadleigh are

Gumbi's Records (run by Pat)- which was in York Rd Market, near the bus stop/Royals which kept a great line in bootleg tapes..

And Golden Discs (nr the chippy)- again mainly 2nd hand, but nothing special

Peter Eden's first shop was along the London Rd, heading west of Southend - just past the Cricketers pub, but before Hamlet Court Road - which was mostly good CDs and vinyl. He moved to a larger shop in Rectory Grove, Leigh around 96ish with a larger and better selection including books, sheet music (framed I've got Beatles and Elvis ones from him) some rare posters and in-store displays - including a fab Yellow Submarine one - the last thing I sold him was my El Topo album for £20

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Planet Mondo said...

Now them - how does that Python song go....

Piley said...

Mondo - no idea how i missed this post originally but i did, only just spotted it... I used to visit Petes' shops for years (he had one on the London Rd near the Cricketers prior to the L-o-S one). You are right, he was always the ultimate host in his shop. He even made a a cup or 2 of tea in the Southend shop whilst we talked about everything from the Beatles to Sinatra.

I knew the Donovan conection, but the Animal Kwackers bit has rocked my world! Can't believe that! Was a big fan of that show, and still have the Annual upstairs somewhere. Happy days... Top post mate.


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Anonymous said...

Southend? Got any Steve Hooker?
Matt, Worksop

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